I keep my complete writings housed on a separate site, Artist's Texts. My most recent essays is Terry Winters: Materials and Mapping. This essay looks at his recent exhibition at the Drawing Center, as well as how influential he was on my early understanding of painting.
I find it continually surprising how much the art we respond to most, either as makers or viewers, is deeply connected to what we are exposed to in their formative years. The sympathies and rebellions we cultivate when we first plunge into art have lasting consequences that run biologically deep. I can only imagine the excitement of young modernists turning the academies upside down, spilling out to work in the capitals of Europe, forming groups and “isms” ever faster, blinking in and out of existence like quantum particles. As art schools became more professionalized, the sense of needing to advance a shared style or aesthetic concern seems to have diminished in favor of collectives with looser aesthetic dogmas. Whether this is a cause or result of the rise of Post-modernism is an open question, but just as it would be foolish to dismiss the influence of pedagogy on the course of art, so it would be equally foolish to accord it as much scope when so much energy is directed toward revising the narratives of contemporary art.
As an undergraduate committed to painting, I was initially interested in figuration and narrative, but I quickly turned to abstraction as I worked through basic forms reduced to diagrams. I wasn’t interested in history painting or in the interaction of figures in actual space, but I was also not interested in the abstraction of material for its own sake. My initial points of reference were Pop or neo-imagist artists, but I didn’t make a personal connection to the work, which led to my feeling a little lost. Then my teacher took the time to drive me and a few other students out to see an exhibition of Terry Winters’s paintings…